Many of our clients want to see their names in print, which we love to hear. Becoming a published author in professional or business magazines, newspapers or online helps promote your practice on several levels. It starts with the initial group of people who read the article, and then expands when you leverage that article by using it on your website, linking to it from your blog, sending it as part of an email blast, reprinting it and include it with marketing materials. So, the question is: "How do you do it?"
We recently consulted with Public Relations Professional Shari Peyser,(www.publicrelationsforlawyers.com) for advice.
Q: Shari, our clients understand the value of the published word. How should they get started?
Shari: First, consider your audience. Are you writing for legal colleagues, with an eye to building referrals from attorneys in other practice areas? Or are you writing for potential clients?
Q. Great advice. So, with the audience in mind, what's the next step?
Shari: Once you have narrowed down your audience, consider what it is that you want to write about. What do you know that others don’t? Is there a focused area of the law that you have developed into a niche practice? Are there particular issues that clients come to you with that you handle with great success?
Define three to five topics that you have the expertise and experience to draw from.
Q. Okay! Three to five topics. I could publish to my own website or blog, but what if I want to go beyond that?
Shari: Now, consider your media outlets. Get your hands on several issues and check their website – most magazines and newspapers have an “author guidelines” section. Read it and the magazine so you understand what the editor is looking for.
Q. I did not know you could find the author's guidelines on the website. That's great information. So -- I've targeted an audience and some key publications, what's next?
Shari: Next step - write the article. I have worked with lawyers who wanted to see if an editor was interested in a particular topic before they started writing. And I’ve heard from many editors who are frankly not interested and don’t have the time to discuss article ideas. They want to see your ideas -- in writing.
One client wanted to become a syndicated columnist. The only problem was, to be in a news syndicate with a column every single week, he had to prepare at least six months of columns to even be considered. He decided to continue practicing law!
Q. What are some good sources for ideas?
Shari: Remember that editors and readers want original content. Consider your anecdotes – the couple who wants to leave their entire estate to the cats and not their children, the thrice-marrieds who have a long and tangled family life…. Just remember to tweak the anecdotes so that no one can be identified. Those stories, combined with sage advice, could be your ticket to writing success.
Q. Great ideas! So, how long before I see my byline in print (or online)?
Shari: If you do your homework and prepare an article that suits the readers and editors of a magazine or newspaper, be prepared for the next step: waiting. For bar journals, the wait can be as long as four months or more. For consumer magazines, it may be six months to a year before your article appears. Others may post your article the day it’s received. It all depends on the media outlet.
Q. And what if the editor rejects my article?
Shari: Consider it useful feedback. See if you can find out why it was rejected. And then, start looking for other places where it might be more appropriate. Remember that every good writer knows that rejection is part of the process. Success requires staying the course, doing the preparation and, above all, writing!
Thank you so much, Shari. This is great information for any attorney who wants to get published.
Let us know if you have other questions you'd like to ask Shari about publishing or public relations. We would love to have her back for another interview!